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Scuba diving (Advanced) at Pulau Dayang in Malaysia with Gilldivers (Asia Dive Academy)

Pulau Dayang is one of the a small remote islands situated in the South China, located east of peninsular Malaysia and Southeast of Tioman island not too far off from Singapore for a weekend getaway. Dayang itself is an island located beside Pulau Aur, a nice kampong island I dived the last time I was around the area almost 7 years ago. It is one of the few nice dive sites with crystal clear water with good 15-20m visibility. Unlike Tioman, which is an extremely commercialised and touristy diving spot. Dayang and Aur on the contrary have a more rustic feel, and a break from the Singaporean concrete jungle.

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Out in the wild
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Land ahoy!
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Enjoying the Kampung life

So what better way to spend the good friday and easter sunday weekend than to Scuba? The journey up to Dayang started with a 2-3 hour bus ride north to Mersing Jetty where we got on our boat for a 3-4 hour east-bound ride into the South China Sea towards the island. The boat which picked us up is a large wooden boat called the Princess, with a top speed of 10 knots (~20kmph) and served as our diving boat too. Dayang was surprisingly more commercialised than I thought, with Kampung style living mixed with bits of civilisation like flushable toilets, running water, electricity and even air-conditioning offered in the bunk rooms- facilities possibly injected by the Singaporean investors. The place runs on localised diesel power generation at night, where all power is cut during the day.

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Tranquil Dayang
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Accommodation and dining areas
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Out in the open water

I was there to do a couple of leisure dives and my advanced diving course over the Good Friday long weekend, this time with PADI. I am NAUI open water certified, something which many divers take pride as being the better (and non-profit) dive association compared to the more commercialised PADI. However, I particularly liked the larger diving networks PADI offers. After all, as I come to dive more often, I come to learn that the proficiency of graduating divers is largely instructor-dependent and qualification association/school is largely secondary.

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In the middle of nowhere!
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Chilling on deck
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Anywhere goes!

I got to dive with Gilldivers (Asia Dive Academy) this time. I’ve always heard of them from the local SCUBA community as a very lively, youthful group with very friendly staff. The group is an odd 40 over people, with 70% of the attendees doing their open water license certification. The rest, (including myself) are leisure and advanced course divers. The group is a very diverse bunch, we dive hard, get our certification and party hard! Also, the lack of light pollution at night right out in the south china sea area yielded several starry nights where I was able to get a couple good night photographs as well as able to catch a lunar eclipse on the second night of the dive.

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The dive group!
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Graduation night
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Lunar eclipse

The dives
I did a total of about 10 dives for the trip, topping up at 5 dives a day. Key dive sites around Dayang includes Pulau Lang (a nearby island), Sebukang Bay (Pulau Aur), Captains Point and Rayners Rock. The place is pretty quiet given the site’s $230RM marine park fee imposed by the Iskandar state (like a marine ERP) discouraging tourist visitation which kept the diver numbers in the region low.

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Underwater navigation
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Night dive

There Rayners Rock area is exceptionally deep (going down to 28-30m) with strong currents, which was useful for the deep dive portion of my advanced dive course. I got to do peak performance buoyancy where I had many good attempt in maintaining a mediating floating “Seated Buddha” position underwater. I achieved my advanced course certification with excellent feedback from my Dive instructor, this allowed me to graduate early and go on a couple of leisure day and night dives with the leisure and open water groups for the remainder of my dive trip, before headed back on Sunday morning.

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Look humans!
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Explore explore!

I enjoy exploration and photography, and diving is a means for me to explore and photograph the less-seen depths of the sea. Considering that more than 70% of the earth’s surface is underwater, there is alot to see! The sea life underwater is unique in both the day and night too, with the night offering light shows of bio-luminescence.

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Finding Nemo
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Macros for the win
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Coral beds

There is plenty of underwater marine wildlife, complemented by good underwater visibility. Saw a couple of Sharks, Stingrays, Barracudas, many schools of fishes and even got circled by Sea turtles. Closer macro finds includes Sea slugs, Anemonefish (Clownfish), Moray eels. Saw crabs and giant clams while diving at night, together were bioluminescent squid and plankton. The area has many healthy large beds of corals which paints the overall health of the ecosystem. A couple of divers were chased by aggressive trigger fishes.

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Coral habitats
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Fish schools
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Curious sea turtle

Food is often the highlight after every dive, comprising of Kampung style home-cooked food prepared by the local Kampung Malay family which lives on the island. The dive trip was very enjoyable. I can say, with myself working now, dive trips are often harder to come compared to my Polytechnic dive club days. It’s also harder to get my usual Polytechnic team for dives now after graduation with personal work and family commitments. This trip has definitely broadened my diving network and contact for more trips to come! Thanks Gill for the excellent dive!

You can view more photos of the dive here.


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